“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

What Imran does not say is that the real issue is whether Kashmiris, who have a poor record on exhibiting discipline, will ever obey traffic lights. It may be a case where a remedy is worse than the disease

(Mr. Imran Mohammad Muzaffar, 21, was born in Hajin Sonawari, Bandipora. He completed his high school from the Government Higher Secondary School in Hajin. He has studied Political Science and History, and joined Government Degree College, Baramulla, to study Convergent Journalism. He is presently a student at the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Jammu and Kashmir University. Mr. Muzaffar has participated in one of the workshops of the BBC World Service Trust on Social Affairs Reporting. He has participated in the National Science Drama Contest in New Delhi, and looks forward to pursue post-graduate studies. He writes occasionally to express his hopes and dreams.)

Country Without Traffic Signal

At a time when the traffic signals are controlling the traffic flow in and outside the world, the traffic on Kashmir roads is still regulated by old masked traffic policeman standing amid heavy traffic queuing directing the people to go right or left. He seldom succeeds in his endeavour. No red, yellow and green lights, only the arms’ movement are the best tool for the traffic policewala.
Mohammad Aslam has been waving his arms from past six years showing vehicles direction and controlling the heavy traffic flow at the Zero Bridge Junction in Srinagar. He never teases or taunts drivers as he believes that they should realise themselves the wrong they commit. “What would I tell a 20-year old unemployed boy, who is a driver, that he broke my arm signal and hence charged, he should realise himself the complexity of the arm signal”, he says. The blue mask, which he uses to cover his mouth, is five years old and has been the best doctor for Mohammad Aslam. In his mid-forties, he is the man who always remains cool and calm directing the vehicles which otherwise could lead to a worst mess. He sometimes falls prey to the worst kind of treatment from both the state and the subjects he directs. People shout at him, most of the times, to vent out their anger while they had been stopped for zebra rules and other crossings.

I remember the famous poem, ‘Country without a post office’, by Aga Shahid Ali. The poet wrote the poem in the turbulent conditions when the state subjects were subjected to misery and captivity. It was a thought provoking poem which expressed the alienation of Kashmiris towards the means of expression, their newness in nothing and their straightforwardness of being mum. Kashmiris, then, remained silent over issues and did not take part in the sharing of ideas; post office was a farfetched dream. It was only by the dint of Aga Shahid that people opened up the gates of expression and expressed in full tone the misery and cruelty they were subjected to.

The things like freedom and the channels of expression are good but to the contrary we have the biggest ever challenge that of traffic jams. People like Mohammad Aslam, handling all the traffic in and outside the city, could no way contribute towards its end as they themselves say how they would charge a person when they are hardly in the range of the arms. This arm-signalling has proved very fatal both for the vehicles as well as pedestals as they hardly are differentiated.

Much has been written on the traffic jams and its causes. The biggest problem Kashmir is now in is that it has no traffic signals as they are very essential and could usher well the vehicles and the pedestals as is the case in Delhi and other metropolis.

Towards the end there is a poem to be written: ‘country without a traffic signal.’